Hundreds of residents have won the support of Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly in their fight to reinstate a rural bus service hit by cuts.
More than 150 villagers have signed petition calling on Staffordshire County Council to restore the 94 service which runs between Newcastle and Alsagers Bank, Halmer End and Audley.
The service was withdrawn earlier this year when First Bus pulled out, leaving residents without a means of travelling to and from their jobs in Newcastle. D&G Bus later stepped in but said they could only afford to operate a limited timetable.
Residents have now handed over their petition to Mr Farrelly who has written to Staffordshire County Council calling for the service to be reinstated fully with the support of a financial subsidy.
“I am opposed to any cuts in our bus services. The 94 serves a largely rural area where there are many elderly residents who simply do not have access to cars. The loss of the early morning service, in particular, has also left people with great difficulty in getting to work in Newcastle.”
Since taking up the Alsagers Bank campaign, Mr Farrelly has now been approached by residents in the Knutton and Cross Heath areas where bus services are also being withdrawn.
“The County Council has told me that it is currently reviewing bus services right across Newcastle and I am deeply concerned that this review will be used as a smokescreen for cuts to the local network,” he said.
“It seems to have escaped the County’s attention that services are now being cut in places like Mill Rise in Cross Heath, where there are many elderly residents and a rapidly expanding community. Residents have told me that several operators were operating rival services in that area but, predictably, ended up pulling out because they could not make it pay.’
“This should be sufficient to demonstrate to the County Council that demand for local bus services in Knutton and Cross Heath is not only likely to grow but also that they need to be properly regulated.
“I have written to the County to urge them to support the reinstatement of all these services. I hope they will complete their review urgently with the right outcome for local residents,” he added.